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Killing with kindness? Lions heap praise on Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 08: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals talks with head coach Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions after a 27-27 tie at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Kyler Murray experience in Arizona began with a race.

The Cardinals’ No. 1 pick raced fellow rookie Andy Isabella and posted the neck-and-neck results in June 2019. Knowing that Isabella ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine, it was eye-popping to see his quarterback keep pace.

Murray showed off that speed while rushing for 544 yards as a rookie, then added some muscle mass in the elongated offseason. And somehow, through two games, it looks like he got even faster.

The head coach of Murray’s next opponent certainly thinks that’s the case.

“He can just burst and explode and within two steps he’s at full speed, and then he can stop within a step or two,” Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia told reporters on a Zoom call Wednesday. “I think some of that for a quarterback position, you know, you’re not necessarily used to it. It’s sort of like trying to tackle a punt returner in those sort of space plays he’s able to create.”

Detroit’s coaching staff might as well try to flood Murray’s Twitter timeline with praise, hoping his head gets a little too big.

Arizona’s first two opponents, San Francisco and Washington, certainly haven’t had success stopping him on the field.

The MVP talk surrounding the Cardinals’ second-year quarterback has led the storylines regarding their 2-0 start.

He’s thrown for 516 yards and rushed for 158 more. Murray has five combined touchdowns, and his two interceptions came on a batted ball and a missed route that receiver DeAndre Hopkins took the blame for.

Murray said Wednesday he doesn’t have issues with tuning out the raised bar of expectations.

“It’s not my first time dealing with success in my lifetime. This is part of the game,” Murray said.

If Cardinals fans are worried about the Cardinals reading the headlines too much, remember: Murray made his pro debut against the Lions last year, and it wasn’t the most positive experience for the rookie No. 1 pick.

The Cardinals were down 24-6 in the fourth quarter before rallying to force overtime. They would eventually tie Detroit, 27-27.

“It was a tough day. It really was — it just felt ugly all day,” Murray recalled. “Obviously, I knew at some point we knew we had to keep our head down and keep grinding, and eventually something would shake out for us. And it did. They played us well. Couple unfortunate batted balls down and stuff like that. It was an ugly day but it turned out to be a decent ending.”

The Cardinals’ offensive identity has evolved in the past year under head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Murray has a year under his belt and looks far more advanced operating the offense compared to 2019’s opener.

Detroit started off this season in similar fashion to last. The Lions had a 23-6 lead at the start of the fourth quarter before ending Week 1 with a 27-23 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Last week, Patricia’s team was ahead of the Green Bay Packers 14-3 after the first quarter but lost 42-21.

First-year Detroit defensive coordinator Cory Undlin sees similarly explosive potential in Arizona’s offense.

Undlin offered this praise of Kingsbury’s scheme this week: “The one thing I liked about coaching in the league is you didn’t have to worry about playing Texas Tech. Well, we’re playing them.”

Phillips Law Group

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